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By John D. Ferrer

In part one[i] we raised a question from one of our viewers in Nigeria at the contentious Islamic/Christian border there. He asked what should Christians do when the other guy is cheating? In this case, Muslims from the north are rigging elections to win political influence over the Christian south. Our answer is don’t sink to their level, but honor God above all. Unless you’re literally forced to lie or cheat, then don’t lie or cheat.

The next logical question is, “Okay, don’t ‘sink to their level.’ But how do we do that?” Here are seven principles for when our opponent isn’t fighting fair.

First, “live not by lies.”

In 1974, just before his exile from the U.S.S.R., Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote an essay that became his farewell address to Soviet Russia. Titled, “Live not by lies,” this essay answered how to stay spiritually grounded in the face of government oppression.  Solzhenitsyn distilled his  wisdom down to one clear warning: “live not by lies.” Oppressors will press you. They’ll hurt your body, restrict your freedom, and test your faith. But they can’t touch your soul unless you let them. When you let them make you a liar, you’ve volunteered for that corruption.

To be clear, “live not by lies” doesn’t mean be foolhardy. You don’t have to draw a target on your back or invite persecution. But neither should you let them make you a liar. You can be discrete. Measure your words. Be quiet where your words will be misconstrued. Just don’t let them make you a liar. Or a cheat, for that matter. Otherwise, you get pulled into their game. Why would you want to play their game? They’re masters at it. You’re not. And you’ll lose. Plus you’d betray your own conscience and faith just by playing it. Soon you’re no better than they are.

Second, get creative with the influence you do have.

You have more influence than you may realize. Get creative. Be savvy. You’ll be surprised at the ways you can affect positive change. Besides voting and public office, there’s also citizen journalism, signing petitions, starting “go-fund-me” campaigns, peaceful protests, concerts, graphic arts, social media, boycotts, rearing children, and more.

This is Biblical too. Scripture instructs people not just in the law but also in wisdom. There’s a whole genre of biblical books called “wisdom literature” (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon). Scripture guides us with law and wisdom as complementary traditions running parallel like train tracks so we can get where we need to go. We need more than just law-abiding moral behavior. We also need wisdom to find the best way to obey God’s laws.  Jesus implies as much when he says to his disciples,

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Mt 10:16)

Third, reframe the game

We should also remember the bigger battle happening here. Stolen elections aren’t just about politics. They’re not just earthly warfare or even just battles between church and mosque. This is ultimately spiritual warfare. When we understand that fact, we can reframe our earthly struggle in terms of the bigger picture.

We could dwell on this point, but for now, just remember that spiritual warfare isn’t a metaphor. It’s literal. It forces everyone to take sides. It engulfs every other battlefield. And it rewrites the rules of engagement. As Paul says, “our struggle is . . . against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God” (Eph 6:12-13).

Fourth, remember the real enemy

Our ultimate enemy isn’t other people but rather Satan and his forces. Before Paul describes this spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6 he points out that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood” (vs. 12). You may be tempted to treat your earthly opponent as the real enemy. But that person might not even be a rebel. He or she could just be a confused and deluded captive who doesn’t know any better. We fight differently against captives than against a rebel army. So don’t forget who the real enemy is.

Fifth, we don’t fight as the world fights

Since our battle is ultimately spiritual warfare, and Satan is the real enemy, it should be no surprise that we need to fight differently. I can’t explain this point any better than St. Paul does.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Sixth, you can’t force divine justice ­

This world is fallen, it remains fallen, and will keep falling… until Christ returns. In the meantime, we have only hints and bits of justice. They’re like glimpses into the eternal perfection of heaven. God carved out lots of room for us to practice redemptive influence here and now. But be assured that justice isn’t guaranteed till Judgment Day.

If you try to “force” God’s hand, seeking divine justice now,  you’re probably using questionable methods. Plus, you might make the same mistake Judas did. Some scholars believe that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus in hopes of triggering an uprising where Jesus would have to lead a revolt against Rome to claim his Messianic crown. We can’t be certain of Judas’s motives, but we can say that in betraying Jesus, even Judas’s best intentions couldn’t redeem those actions. You may be tempted to “force” justice on this side of eternity by taking “creative license” with the law. But this is quicksand. There’s no clear biblical case for vigilante justice in the New Testament.

Seventh, draw courage from believers who’ve gone before you.

We’re not alone in this struggle. Persecution and hardship are normal Christian living (John 16:33). Yet believers across church history have pressed on. And so can you. Whether it was from Roman laws, Jewish zealots, Muslim invaders, state authorities, or rude neighbors, persecution is part of normal Christian living. Countless believers have gone before us setting an example to follow. Some faced persecution. Some died as martyrs. But all of them ran their race and passed the baton to future generations. That’s us. As we “run the race” marked out for us, they are a “great cloud of witnesses” now cheering us on from the stands (Heb 12:1). For their sake, and for God’s, we cannot afford to take shortcuts, bending the rules for some “greater good.”

Final Warnings

So how do we answer whether “turnabout is fair play”? In We need to honor God above all – even when our opponent breaks the law. We talked at length about how to do that.  But a few more warnings are in order.

If we cheat because our opponent cheats, then we invite God’s judgment all the same. Plus, we risk losing our integrity. Our character is hard to earn and easy to lose especially if we forget that the ends don’t really justify the means. Also, remember that we represent our family, our church, and our God. So, if we ever lie and cheat for political gains it’s like spraying graffiti on the walls of our home or church: “LIAR!” “CHEAT!” Winning an election is not worth defacing our family name, our church, or the name of Jesus.

Are there any exceptions?

Earlier I mentioned some possible exceptions that don’t apply here. Stay tuned for part 3 in this series where we talk about dilemmas!



Recommended resources related to the topic:

Is Morality Absolute or Relative? by Dr. Frank Turek DVD, Mp3 and Mp4

When Reason Isn’t the Reason for Unbelief by Dr. Frank Turek DVD and Mp4


Dr. John D. Ferrer is an educator, writer, and graduate of CrossExamined Instructors Academy. Having earned degrees from Southern Evangelical Seminary and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he’s now active in the pro-life community and in his home church in Pella Iowa. When he’s not helping his wife Hillary Ferrer with her ministry Mama Bear Apologetics, you can usually find John writing, researching, and teaching cultural apologetics.

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